A recent community-led fundraiser held at the Campbell River Art Gallery is just the beginning of a new direction for the organization, according to the board of directors.
The fundraiser, entitled “Shoal,” involved local artists donating work to be hung in the gallery, which were then given away at the end of a gala event celebrating all things art in our community. Tickets for the event were $100 each, and each ticket holder received a number.
When their number was drawn, they got to pick one of the works to take home.
It was a novel approach, board chair Denise Mitchell says, and it went very, very well. She is particularly happy with how it brought together Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, young and old, who work in all kinds of mediums.
“It was something we wanted to collaborate with the entire community on,” Mitchell says. “We wanted to open up the dialogue and collaboration with both bands, but not just make it about Indigenous art, specifically, and not just for this first event, but for everything we do going forward. We want to make it about the art itself and bring in more of our local artists to be involved, whether they be First Nations, or students, or professionals. We want anyone interested in the arts to know they have a place here.”
Board vice-chair Darren Larose says the arts have been segregated for too long into “types” or “styles” of work, when what should be important is the creation of art itself and the expression of the community reflected within it.
“It is really about the entire community and trying to build the art community, not just any certain sectors of it,” Larose says.
The goal for “Shoal” was to get 100 pieces of art donated for the night, and they came pretty close.
“We got 87, and we’re happy with that for a first try,” Larose says.
“We got such a positive reaction from it,” Mitchell agrees. “We definitely intend to do it again. We’re just not sure if it’ll be every year or every other year or how we’re going to move forward. But our goal, no matter what we decide, is to do a major fundraiser every year that is centred around the artists and their art. We have some ideas and some irons in the fire.”
“It’s a big ask for the artists of the community to be donating a work every year for something like this,” Larose agrees. “The work we received was top-notch. Some of those pieces could have gone for five, six, $700, and we were lucky enough to have them donated by artists who recognized the value in what we were trying to do.”
Mitchell says she thinks the artists who participated will also see more benefit than just increased programming at the gallery, which in itself is of great community value.
“We put the social media piece together for them so that they got good PR and advertising,” Mitchell says, “and certainly any time a piece of art goes into someone’s house or business, the tentacles go out and people want to know who did it and how they can contact them, so I think the artists did get a lot of value for their donations. But to ask them to do it once a year might be a bit of a stretch.”
As for what the funds raised at these types of events go towards, Larose says it may come as a surprise to some people how much programming happens at the gallery that isn’t funded by things like grants and government initiatives.
“Between supplies for Super Saturdays, trying to lower the costs for school tours – as well as the gallery going to schools – having artists come in for artist talks, it all costs money,” Larose says. “We had 72 different programs last year.”
Coming up next for the gallery in terms of fundraising for its programs are a high tea being put on by Friends of the Campbell River Art Gallery, where three Alistair Bell prints will be auctioned off, and another event next September that will feature the art of Richard Calver in collaboration with the Museum at Campbell River.
Watch the gallery’s social media channels for updates on these and many more events coming up in 2020.